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And the awards go to...

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Local,Entertainment,Anne Boone Simanski
This year’s National Academy Foundation High School’s Academy Awards, which honored many of Baltimore’s business leaders, was a smashing success. Not only did it raise more than $50,000 for the Baltimore school’s academic programs, it also broke the old idea that these types of ceremonies are snooze fests.

Many set the tone for the evening, including WJZ-TV’s Stan Saunders, who emceed the event and also had a child graduate from this outstanding high school, and did I mention the location? Held at the newly opened Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel, the beautiful venue only enhanced the atmosphere for the 700 in attendance. Petra Compel of P.W. Feats — considered by this social columnist to be one of the best auctioneers around — was carried in “Cleopatra -style” by the school’s Rams football team, adding to the great vibe of the night.

Congrats to all of the “Award of the Year” recipients, which included:

  • Catering Professional: Lee Johnson, Harbor Magic Hotels.
  • Chef: William I. Koch, Baltimore’s Tremont Grand.
  • Finance Mentor: David Chiavacci, Merrill Lynch & Co.
  • Finance Professional: William Hannon, Northrop Grumman.
  • Hospitality and Tourism Mentor: David Lycett, CES Hospitality.
  • Hospitality and Tourism Professional: Mary Sipes, Hyatt Regency; Peter Chambliss, Office of Tourism Development.
  • Hotel Professional: Steven Szalecki, Baltimore’s Tremont.
  • IT Mentor: Deshaun Steele, The Baltimore Convention Center.
  • IT Professional: John C. McFadden, Loyola College.
  • Friend of the Academy: Robert Heck, commissioner, Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners.
A magical time

The recent Living Classroom Foundation’s annual party “Maritime Magic,” held in Fells Point, did not disappoint. Supporters dove into the great food and drink vendors, while bidding up a storm on a huge silent auction. Continuing the maritime theme, we climbed aboard Jim Seay’s yacht, docked alongside of all the fun. Jim is the president of Premier Rides, who has created more fun by being a theme park developer. In fact, he will unveil his latest creation — a 300-foot-high Ferris wheel — next summer in Rutherford, N.J.  But on this night it was all about water fun, and what a better way to end the evening than being assisted off the boat by former Raven and gentleman Mike McCrary, who may have weaker knees these days, but his upper body strength is still pro. When he pulled me up to the dock, there went the Blackberry, which needed some maritime magic to save it. Oh well.

By the way
  • Remember the 1970s progressive rock band Crack the Sky? If you were a fan, they are coming to the Timonium Fairgrounds Nov. 9 for a charity concert to benefit the Stanley Whitaker Gift Foundation. Tickets are $75 available through Ticketmaster. Questions? Call Sue Ellen Grove at 410-418-4546.
  • Speaking of music, grab a bottle of your favorite adult beverage and head out to the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church in Lutherville for a dance-social fundraiser. The Towson High music program and its boosters will sponsor the benefit on Oct. 24 from 7 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling 410-296-9159.
  • Hugh Sisson, managing partner of Baltimore’s Clipper City Brewing Company, is hopping happy these days. He told us that they garnered 11 medals at the recent 2008 Maryland Brewer’s Association Governor’s Cup competition. The Brewery also took the highest honor at the competition as its “Hang Ten” Weizen Dopplebock, that’s a beer, was the overall Governor’s Cup winner. Clipper City also recorded the most gold medals at the competition and received 11 total medals out of 12 possible categories. “It is always gratifying to receive acknowledgment for quality work,” said Sisson. “ ‘Hang Ten’ is an unusual beer, so it is fun to see it get some well-deserved recognition.”
Anne’s top pick
  • What: “HalloWine” Party to benefit Meals on Wheels
  • When: Friday, Oct. 31 at 9 p.m.
  • Where: 1840s Ballroom, 29 S. Front St. in Baltimore
  • Tickets: $49
  • Info: 410-561-2433
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